Clemson Has An Easy Schedule
This is the mantra thrown out every single day regarding Clemson and the 2019 season. Clemson plays in a terrible conference. Clemson has a cakewalk to the College Football Playoffs. Clemson doesn’t belong in the top 4. How many Clemson fans are getting sick and tired of this kind of rhetoric; literally, thousands. As has been mentioned before, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney can not recruit for the rest of the ACC. He can not coach the rest of the ACC. He can not run every football program in the ACC. He can not make the rest of the ACC Clemson. The ACC in recent years has brought in new head coaches at Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Louisville, Florida State, Georgia Tech, and held serve at Syracuse, NC State, Duke, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest. The turnover of coaches is one thing, the turnover of players is another. Clemson is simply the only the school in the ACC that reloads talent year after year after year. Recruiting is the name of the game, and Clemson is the best in the ACC at it.
How can the ACC change the perception that the conference is horrible? It isn’t an overnight fix. Bringing the coaches in is one thing. The top 5 recruiting classes in the ACC over the last 3 years have gone to Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina.
The rest of the ACC are basically getting the leftovers. That’s a hard pill to swallow but it is true. In the state of North Carolina, there are three ACC schools battling to keep top prospects in state. Numerous top schools are dipping into North Carolina and taking top players. Todd Gurley left for Georgia. Clemson routinely gets great players out of North Carolina. Louisville competes against the SEC yearly for recruits in-state, Clemson has received a commitment from one of the best players in Kentucky, if not THE best. Miami and Florida State battle the entire SEC as well as Clemson in the state of Florida. Pittsburgh battles the Big 10 and Penn State every year for the top talent in Pennsylvania. Georgia Tech is going through an offense change and a new coach, finally doing away with Paul Johnson and the triple option. Recruiting is key to any program and this conference, outside of Clemson, Miami and Florida are constantly trying to find those 5-10 players than can make a difference. This isn’t an excuse, it’s a fact.
An important change that MUST be made is scheduling. Clemson schedules two SEC schools, one state FCS and one Group of 5 school every year. That has been the blueprint for the Clemson scheduling forever. The deal with Notre Dame has them scheduling 5 ACC school games every year. This year, Notre Dame played, and beat, Louisville, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Duke, and will play Boston College later in the year. This gives these schools a quality opponent. Pittsburgh lost by 7 at Penn State. Duke got rolled by Alabama. Miami lost to a highly ranked Florida team by 4.
The point is, the ACC teams outside of Clemson are not beating the good out of conference schools when they play them. They need to stop scheduling buttercup non-conference teams and take their lumps against the better power 5 teams. The ACC is by far not the best football conference of the Power 5 schools. Clemson is clearly carrying the conference from a national perspective. On the downside, because the rest of the ACC is not pulling it’s weight, it drags down Clemson’s legitimacy almost to the point of being left out of the college football playoffs because of a perceived “hot garbage schedule”. The only thing Clemson can do is to keep doing what they are doing, dominate who they play on game day, and let the chips fall where they may. For Clemson, the best is yet to come. For the rest of the ACC, it’s time for them to start coming to the party.